Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tiny Dancer

It doesn't make sense. Why I had to choke back tears in the middle of Walmart because they were playing Tiny Dancer, I'll never know for sure.

I mean, it's a song about the 1970s, California, and beautiful women. And while it's true that just about any song about California can make me wax nostalgic, I've never been a dancer. Nor have I ever been a seamstress.

But there I found myself, in the bread aisle at 8:30 am, swallowing a lump in my throat that threatened to cut off my airway. And suddenly, flashing through my memory was an image of my newborn son. So maybe it's all the babies my friends are having. Copious amounts of babies. All of them boys. Like mine was. Is. That is to say, he's still a boy but he is not still in infant state.

My newborn son. So little. So perfect. His eyes big and searching. His lips small and dipping down exquisitely toward his chin. Tiny dancer. 

He doesn't really dance. When the rhythm gets him he succumbs to it by swinging his hips in wild, dramatic circles, clenching his jaw as though he is preparing for a spinal tap, and throwing his arms around in stiff staccato motions somewhat reminiscent of the disco movement.

"Now how many days until kindergarten?" he asked me this morning and then exhaled loudly when I told him two weeks. Two weeks to a six-year-old might as well be an eternity. Two weeks to his mama is not enough time. She is left staring at tortillas wondering where those six years went.

As we snuggled together in his bed last night he asked 1,001 questions. "What happens if you make a mistake on your paper in kindergarten?" You erase it and try again. "Will the teacher give me an F if I don't do a good job?" Not in kindergarten. "Can we walk up the hill to school on the first day?" Not on the first day. "Why not?" Because I don't want you to be all sweaty and gross on the very first day but maybe we can walk home when you're all done. "Will my teacher like me?" I'm sure she will.

So he's excited. And, obviously, a little apprehensive too. I stared into his eyes and reassured him as best as I could. Those eyes, the ones that first looked into mine on that sweltering evening in July. The ones that sparkle now as he metaphorically bounces off some elementary school wall. The ones that will find joy and pain and knowledge. When he is thirty and I look into them will I still see that baby boy inside?

Will I remember when he was just a tiny dancer in my hand?

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